Harbord Hotel, situated in the northern Sydney suburb of Freshwater, is set to unveil the first stage of its major refurbishment this December.

Formerly known as Harbord Beach Hotel, the community landmark is now operated by new owners Glenn Piper and Lachlan Cottee. The Freshwater locals have worked create a beachside haven, maintaining the almost century-old venue’s surf culture.

“We are honoured to be the new custodians of a venue that is so entrenched in the Freshwater community,” says Piper. “Everyone knows that undeniable Freshwater current — it’s magic, and something that has guided us throughout this process. Life doesn’t need to be complicated when you’ve got the fundamentals down to a fine art. Good mates, great food, cold beer and cracking tunes. And of course, the ocean.”

The first stage of the refurbishment will see the ground floor transformed, including a main bar and courtyard, with casual dining experience Balsa also launching.

Architects Alexander & Co are behind the design, which references Freshwater’s history as the birthplace of surfboarding in Australia. Artist Ash Holmes has created a mural, with the building’s exterior taking on a sun-bleached appearance. Some parts of the venue that have been covered up for decades will be revealed.

“We want Harbord Hotel to be more than just a pub for our guests,” says Piper. “It’s a home, a hangout, a place where you can pop in after a surf and grab a bite to eat, and be on a first name basis with staff, where morning brunch stretches out to the afternoon and daytime turns seamlessly into sundown.”

Head Chef Adam Rust (12 Micron), also a Freshwater local, will lead the kitchen, plating up ethical produce including seafood and foraged coastal herbs. A will simple approach to cooking, using salt, wood and smoke will allow the ingredients shine.

The drinks menu will also make use of salt and smoke, with margaritas, wines and Australian beers on offer alongside non-alcoholic drops.

At Balsa, Rust has designed a menu that honours the ocean and celebrates the connection between Australia’s East Coast surf culture and that of the US West Coast.

Set to be revealed at a later date, the second phase of the extensive refurbishment will include boutique accommodation and a cafe.